A 3,500-Year-Old Cuneiform Inscription From a Syrian Kingdom May Tell Us Who the H
A new king of an obscure kingdom called Tikunani has just been discovered. Tikunani was situated somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers near the modern Syrian-Turkish border in about the middle of the second millennium B.C. Its king was named Tunip-Tes
We know this because Professor Mirjo Salvini, a distinguished Italian scholar who can read cuneiform the way you and I read a newspaper, has published the text of a remarkably preserved square prism (photo, right) covered with cuneiform characters. Although extraordinary photographs of the prism are available to all, so that anyone who is able can check Salvini’s readings, the prism itself cannot be seen. It is in unnamed private hands, according to Salvini’s The H
The prism stands about 8-½ inches high. On the bottom is a colophon, which describes the prism’s contents: a list of 438 workers who served Tunip-Tes
The king’s name is Hurrian. The name of the month used to date the baked clay document is Babylonian. Assyrian influence is also evident. Tikunani was also somehow connected to the adjacent Hittite kingdom.
The text on the sides of the prism consists of 438 masculine names written in eight columns, two on each of the four sides. While many of the names are Hurrian, many are Semitic. Some are of unknown origin. All are identified as H
There were apparently two kinds of H
Professor Salvini promises an analysis of the names in a separate publication. Biblical scholars will be watching for connections with names mentioned in the Bible. Stay tuned.
Which Page of the Magazine Do You Read?
Did the Philistines Lose Their Cultural Identity in Canaan?
The Philistines, one of the Sea Peoples, settled on the Mediterranean coast of southern Canaan in about the 12th century B.C. (Iron Age I, in archaeological terms), about the same time that the Israelites were emerging in the central hill country to the east. Gradually, the Philistines, who came from the Aegean area, acculturated, living as they did among the Canaanites. So what happened to the distinctive Philistine culture?
According to Seymour Gitin, director of the Albright School of Archaeological Research, in Jerusalem, “By the beginning of Iron Age II in the tenth century B.C.E., this dual process [of struggling to survive by maintaining their own peculiar identity, yet adapting to the impact of other, external cultures] was well advanced, marked by the disappearance of most of the material culture traditions of the early immigrant Sea Peoples and the adoption of new elements of material culture from neighboring societies” (Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 298 [May 1995, pub. June 1996], p. 69).
In the same issue, Harvard scholar Bryan Jack Stone tells us: “After their territorial expansion was checked by Saul and David in the tenth century B.C.E., social, economic, and political changes in Philistia intensified the acculturation process, leading to increased cultural similarity between the Philistines and their Israelite and Judahite neighbors. Despite this trend, the Philistines did not lose their ‘cultural core’ or assimiliate into Canaanite society. They retained a distinct cultural and political identity throughout the Iron Age.”
Jerusalem Prize Awarded
Barkay Receives Prestigious Prize
Gabriel Barkay, a longtime member of BAR’s Editorial Advisory Board, received the prestigious Jerusalem Prize in June for his archaeological discoveries in Israel’s capital. He is only the fifth recipient of the prize in its 20-year history. Previous winners were Benjamin Mazar, Nahman Avigad and Yigal Shiloh—all directors of major Jerusalem excavations but now deceased—and former Jerusalem district archaeologist Dan Bahat, also a member of our board.
“I’m very happy, of course, as somebody who loves the city of Jerusalem,” Barkay told BAR. Barkay is perhaps best known for his work at Ketef Hinnom, where he discovered First Temple period tombs, the burial field of the Tenth Roman Legion (which captured the city in 70 A.D.), a fifth-century A.D. church that he believes is the Church of St. George Outside the Walls and—most notably—two late seventh-century B.C. rolled silver amulets that contain a variant of the Priestly Benediction in Numbers 6:24–26.
Barkay has also worked 15 years at Biblical Lachish and has surveyed ancient tombs in the village of Silwan, south of the old city of Jerusalem.
Readers can get acquainted with Barkay’s work through his articles for BAR: “The Divine Name Found in Jerusalem,” BAR 09:02, “The Garden Tomb—Was Jesus Buried Here?” BAR 12:02, “Jerusalem Tombs from the Days of the First Temple,” BAR 12:02, with Amos Kloner, and “The World’s Oldest Poorbox,” BAR 18:06.
Barkay has accepted a visiting professorship at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva for the current academic year.
Constantine The Great
“Constantine The Great”is inscribed in Latin on this half-dollar-size silver coin struck to celebrate the founding of Constantinople. On May 11, 330 A.D., Constantine presided over a ceremony in which the city’s name was changed from Byzantium to Constantinople. As part of the festivities, the emperor presented dignitaries with special coins that were struck at a Constantinople mint (identified at the bottom, in the coin’s exergue) and engraved with his portrait. Since it was Roman tradition for emperors to make such presentations themselves, this coin may have actually been handled by the first Christian ruler of the Roman Empire.
Only six other coins from Constantinople’s inauguration have turned up; all are housed in European museums. This coin, recently purchased and identified by Chicago collector Harlan J. Berk, a noted authority on ancient coins, differs from the others in that its reverse side shows Roma, the goddess of Rome, while the other coins are stamped with the goddess of Constantinople.
Why Roma? Perhaps to appease Rome’s largely pagan population, Berk suggested in a phone interview. Or perhaps Constantine wanted to show that he was emperor over all Roman dominions, both Eastern and Western. In any event, there are numerous examples in classical art in which the goddesses of the two cities are represented in tandem: Coins issued by Constantine’s sons, for example, often depict the two goddesses separated by a shield.
In Veritas, Vino
New Evidence of Wine 7,000 Years Old from Northern Iran
Now that you’ve stopped hunting-gathering and have herds of cattle and goats, and flocks of sheep—now that your fields bulge with grain, and your houses even have kitchens—what do you do?
Make wine, naturally.
Recently scientists performed chemical tests on a yellowish residue from a potsherd excavated two decades ago at Hajji Firuz Tepe (photo below), in modern Iran near Lake Urmia. The residue turned out to be the remains of wine dating to 5400–5000 B.C.—pushing back the earliest evidence of wine consumption some 2,000 years to the later Stone Age, about the time of the formation of the first permanent settlements.
In the June 6th issue of the journal Nature, Patrick E. McGovern and his colleagues, Donald L. Glusker and Lawrence J. Exner at the University of Pennsylvania and Mary M. Voigt at the College of William and Mary, reported that the residue contained the calcium salt produced when tartaric acid interacts with elements in the soil—a telltale sign of wine, since tartaric acid occurs naturally in large amounts only in grapes. The wild grapes harvested by these ancient tipplers “might well have been a precursor of the highly successful domestic type still used to make most modern wine,” according to the journal report.
The Nature report almost immediately led to another discovery. Journalists visiting the University of Pennsylvania Museum asked McGovern to pose with a jar, found near the potsherd, on display at the museum (photo below). When McGovern looked into the jar’s mouth, he saw a reddish residue—which later tests proved to be wine remains similar to those found on the potsherd.
Our Stone Age “savages” not only knew how to ferment grape juice into wine, they could also preserve it. The jar that originally contained the liquid had a long, narrow neck, which could be stoppered to prevent airborne bacteria from making the wine acetic. Intriguingly, the chemical tests also revealed that the remains from both the potsherd and the jar contained traces of terebinth resin, which comes from an evergreen tree that grows abundantly in the Near East; in antiquity, the resin was used as a medicine and wine additive. The Hajji Firuz wine-makers probably added the resin to their swill to suppress the growth of bacteria and to mask the sour, vinegary taste of aging wine.
It appears that Chateau Hajji Firuz had a piney bouquet, like Greek retsina.
What’s the Jerusalem Project Doing in Tel Aviv?
Philanthropist Kaplan Gets His Man
Jerusalem has a new academic center devoted to the study of its past. But the heavily endowed center is located not in Jerusalem, as one would expect, but 30 miles away—at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, just north of Tel Aviv. The decision to base the center at the Orthodox university seems to have raised a few hackles at the decidedly secular Hebrew University, which is in Jerusalem.
Founded in June by South African Mendel Kaplan, the C.G. Foundation’s Jerusalem Project (C.G. stands for Cape Gate, South Africa) is a five-year effort to publish the recent excavations conducted under the archaeological guidance of Dan Bahat along the Western Wall Tunnel,a which runs beside the Temple Mount; to examine the images of Jerusalem in writings from the Second Temple, Mishnaic and talmudic periods; and to explore everyday life in the city’s Jewish Quarter during the 19th and 20th centuries. (The Western Wall Tunnel sparked deadly protests by Palestinians this fall when the Israeli government opened a gate at the north end of the tunnel.) Bahat, a member of BAR’s Editorial Advisory Board, is a former Jerusalem district archaeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority and is now a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan and a fellow of the Jerusalem Project.
Kaplan, who lives in Johannesburg but has maintained a residence in Jerusalem for 20 years, has endowed the project with $100,000 annually as part of his longstanding commitment to archaeology in Israel.
Why isn’t the Jerusalem Project based in Jerusalem? Hebrew University, which Kaplan has worked with on several projects in the past, would seem to have been the natural choice. There have been rumors that Kaplan put out feelers to Hebrew University to house the project but was rebuffed. Kaplan denies this. “I didn’t approach Hebrew University. It was a matter of an individual, not a university. I wanted Bahat. It was a personal decision. I’ve worked with him and been good friends with him for 20 years.”
Hebrew University rector Yehoshua Ben-Arieh has a different recollection. “We did have some vague, initial discussions with Kaplan about establishing a center for the study of Jerusalem, but he had connections to Bar-Ilan and wanted to put a friend in the center, so he decided on Bar-Ilan. Here at Hebrew University we have standards for deciding who will be the scholars. It is not done according to the donors.”
Ben-Arieh had other less than complimentary things to say about the project. Despite the project’s breadth, for example, Ben-Arieh compared it to “a mosquito on an elephant.” He added, “The Hebrew University has a very important institute of archaeology, the most important in the country. Bar-Ilan is just starting. They don’t even have a separate department; it’s part of their Israel Studies Department. All their scholars are second- or third-rate professors of archaeology.”
Ben-Arieh continued, “I am a little surprised that Bar-Ilan is working in the area of Jerusalem. The Hebrew University is doing the research on everything archaeological in this city. But it’s a free country. If Bar-Ilan wants to open a center, they can open a center. Everyone is opening centers these days. It’s the fashion.”
Bar-Ilan spokesman David Weinberg insists that Bar-Ilan and Kaplan form a natural partnership: “There is an ideological affinity between Kaplan and the university’s ethos, which seeks to synthesize Jewish heritage with academics. We uniquely blend archaeology with a deep blend of Jewish history, literature, customs and traditions.”
Kaplan’s relationship with Bahat dates back to the late 1970s, when he read BAR 027editor Hershel Shanks’s small guidebook, The City of David: A Guide to Biblical Jerusalem. After finishing the book, Kaplan took a tour group through the area, including the Gihon Spring and the Pool of Siloam. “The whole area was just a heap of rubbish at that time. I showed my group the Gihon Spring and felt the whole site was a disaster,” Kaplan recounted to BAR. His outrage found an outlet when he phoned then-Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, telling him, “The City of David area is a bloody disgrace.”
They met the next morning. “It was freezing cold, absolutely unbelievable,” recalls Kaplan. “Kollek brought with him two experts, one of whom was Dan Bahat.” As a result, a nonprofit organization called the City of David Society was formed in consultation with Hebrew University, with Kollek as president and Kaplan second-in-command. The group raised funds to support the late Yigal Shiloh’s excavation of the City of David.b “We did the City of David dig, sponsored it, ran it,” says Kaplan. The society is now funding the publication of that dig’s excavation reports.
Joshua Schwartz, who directs the C.G. Foundation’s Jerusalem Project, stresses that Bahat’s recent work is one of the major archaeological undertakings in Jerusalem in the last half century: “It’s up there with Shiloh and the City of David and Benjamin Mazar and the southern Temple [Mount] wall and [Nahman] Avigad in the Upper City in terms of importance.” The excavation has exposed Hasmonean, Herodian, Roman, Muslim and Crusader remains in a narrow tunnel running alongside the Temple Mount’s western wall.
Bahat’s subterranean work is also being supported by a second new institute at Bar-Ilan, the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies. Established last fall, the interdisciplinary center is devoted to research and outreach involving all aspects of Jerusalem, from Biblical to modern times.
Pottery with a Pedigree
Herod Inscription Surfaces at Masada
“Sometimes the most interesting finds come from the garbage dump,” remarked Masada excavator Ehud Netzer about the artifact discovered there this summer.
In a cave at this isolated cliff-top fortress on the western coast of the Dead Sea, a potsherd with the Latin inscription “Herod the Great, King of the Jews [or Judea]” was found among the remains of ancient eggshells, olive pits and broken baskets. This is the first time an inscription bearing Herod’s full title has been found at Masada.
Although Herod (37–4 B.C.) presided over a period of prosperity and rebuilt the Jerusalem Temple on a grand scale, he was to many a ruthless and unpopular ruler. The massive palace-fortress at Masada is one of several Herod built in anticipation of internal revolt or foreign attack. Earlier excavations at Masada by Yigael Yadin in the 1960s turned up dramatic evidence from the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (67–70/73), including an ostracon inscribed with the name “Ben Yair”—who may have been Eleazar Ben Yair, the leader of a group of rebels who perished while defending Masada from the Romans.
The sherd with Herod’s name and title, dating to around 19 B.C., was originally part of an amphora, probably used to transport wine. The cave in which the sherd was found is located near Masada’s synagogue, where Yadin earlier made the spectacular discovery of a small cache containing both non-Biblical and Biblical manuscripts—including the best-preserved early fragment of the apocryphal Book of Ben Sira.
Mark Your Calendar
I, Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome
Through December 1, 1996
Discover what it was like to be a woman in ancient Rome. Tomb reliefs, children’s toys and life-size marble statues reveal the advantages and perils of being a child, a prostitute, an emperor’s wife, an artisan or a slave. The over 170 works are arranged in re-creations of the Roman forum, a traditional family house and a cemetery.
Yale Univ. Art Gallery
New Haven, CT (203) 432-0600
Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt
Through January 5, 1997
Jewelry, statues and reliefs are among the 250 art objects used to explore the roles ancient Egyptian women played as servants, priestesses, queens or deities.
Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati, OH (513) 721-5204
The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections
Through January 5, 1997
Approximately 60 Greek and Roman statues from ancient sanctuaries, temples, and homes illustrate the development of popular statue types and the technology that created them.
Toledo Museum of Art
Toledo, OH (419) 255-8000, fax (419) 255-5639
The Gods of War: Sacred Imagery and the Decoration of Arms and Armor
December 10, 1996, to October 1997
An exploration of the use of religious and talismanic symbols, words and phrases on the armory of the Middle and Far East.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY (212) 535-7710
Los Angeles Archaeology Program
October 21, 1996, to December 9, 1996
Archaeologists discuss such topics as “Excavating Love in Ancient Israel” and “Ancient Israel Through the Eyes of Her Enemies” at the University of Judaism and the Skirball Cultural Center’s lecture series “Archaeology, the Bible and Life in the Ancient World.” Call (310) 476-9777 ext. 246 for more information.
BAS New Orleans Study Seminar
November 21 to 23, 1996
Enjoy Cajun cooking and jazz as James Tabor, Michael Wise, James Strange, and Martin Abegg lecture on Bible and archaeology. November 8, flexible deadline. Call (202) 364-3300 for more information.
ASOR and SBL Annual Meeting
November 23 to 26, 1996
Hundreds of talks, thousands of scholars. Jodi Magness presents “Some Observations on the Archaeology of Qumran” and Ammon Ben-Tor discusses “The Renewed Excavations at Hazor” at the New Orleans meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. Call (617)353-6570 or fax (617) 353-6575 for more information.
AIA and APA Annual Meeting
December 27 to 30, 1996
“Oh, Statue, Speak! Divine and Royal Images in Ancient Mesopotamia” and “The Blue Monkeys of the Aegean and Their Implications for Bronze Age Trade,” among many other things, are on the agenda when the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Philological Association gather in New York City. Call 508-793-3501 for more information.
BAS Florida Study Seminar
January 30 to February 1, 1997
During the cold winter months, join BAS in the sun at our West Palm Beach seminar, “Exploration of the Bible and Archaeology.” Speakers include P. Kyle McCarter, Maxwell Miller and James Strange. Call (202) 364-3300 for more information.
What Is It?
B. Cosmetic container
C. Mezuzah (a case containing a scroll and affixed to a doorpost)
D. Flower vase
E. Martini shaker
What It Is, Is …
B. A cosmetic container.
Byzantine women would dip a thin applicator into this glass tube, smear it with kohl powder and darken the edges of their eyes. Although one recipe for kohl specifically calls for sunflower soot, charred almond shells and frankincense, kohl became a common name for eye-paints of various kinds. A rabbinic text called the Tosefta advises women “to kohl both eyes” to embellish their beauty (Shabbath 8:33). This eight-inch-high tube, found in a tomb in Israel, resembles glassware from Caesarea, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast.
Tunip-Tesásáup of Tikunani